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Former, current NBA players weigh in on Knicks trade targets

From Chuck to Paul Pierce to Joe Ingles of all men!

Utah Jazz v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

How many players have been linked to the New York Knicks in the past few weeks, months, and years? Can’t really name them all, can you?

It comes with the territory, literally and figuratively, and whispers are not going to stop until/unless the Knicks front office finally pulls off the hyper-anticipated trade they have been working and building toward since the new Rose-Thibs regime took charge of the franchise.

The war-chest narrative got kickstarted by the failure of landing Kevin Durant and/or Kyrie Irving back in 2019, instead deciding to pivot and approach things in a more short-termish way by landing Julius Randle on a three-year contract but nobody else (Bobby Portis, Elfrid Payton, Taj Gibson, Reggie Bullock...) getting signed for more than two years.

After passing on what could have been the biggest trade in the last 10 years of New York Knicks basketball operations—declining to go overboard to get Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz—some folks are getting a bit antsy.

And by folks, I mean fans, pundits... and former/current NBA players.

Here is a little roundup of what we’ve heard from those belonging to the latter group in the last few days as they have weighed in on some potential trade targets of the Knicks and what they think New York should/will do going forward.

Charles Barkley: Trade for Karl-Anthony Towns

A few days ago, when the Knicks and the Cavs met for the first time since their matchup in the first round of the 2022/23 postseason, the Chuckster grabbed the attention of the NBA nation by declaring the Knicks a “mediocre team.”

“I think the needs need to do something,” said Barkley. “You see how this movie is going to end.”

And hey, if you ask me, Chuck might be right because the Knicks, as currently constructed, are simply not going to be fighting for the chip not getting even remotely close to it.

What I don’t buy, however, is the solution pitched by Barkley: “I will go out personally to get [Karl-Anthony] Towns because this team here is not going to win anything.”

Barkley thinks Towns and Rudy Gobert “can’t play together,” and he went the distance saying “That was one of the stupidest trades ever—you go get two guys that are seven feet tall in a little man’s league?”

Towns has been labeled the most “realistic” trade target for the Knicks in the shortest possible timeframe, perhaps even being available by the time we arrive at the trade deadline next February, and the Chuckster seems to like him.

Paul Pierce: Trade for Zion Williamson

This Paul Pierce snippet flew a bit under the radar and just recently popped up in your timeline with many platforms out there echoing the words of PP and the reaction and thoughts of fellow champ Kevin Garnett. Watch for yourself.

No disrespect but Pierce looked like he was talking just a little bit of nonsense, thus me not writing about it until today. But hey, we’re here to cover the Knicks so I guess it’s reasonable to give Pierce his minute of glory.

“If they can find a way to get Zion . . .” started Pierce before bursting in laughing, “or if they can find a way to get Embiid. . . .” I mean it might be me but it felt like this man just started to talk, kept the ball rolling without knowing or having the tiniest of clues about where things were going to end, and added more and more to the talk.

“If things flame out on New Orleans this year, or [Zion] gets hurt again, or they don’t make the playoffs . . . just something doesn’t go right,” Pierce reasoned, “you gotta explore [a trade].”

Countered KG: “I don’t think the Pelicans are going to take Randle for Zion straight up.”

To which PP replied: “Nah, a couple of first-rounders with Barrett and Randle? Yeah, I think they would.”

And finally, the solution for the Pelicans' problems with Zion (seemingly not being healthy, which Randle is), courtesy of this living legend: “Randle is what New Orleans needs! They need a consistent 20-10 guy in that spot!”

Joe Ingles: Wait for Donovan Mitchell

Finally, an active player (yes, you didn’t know but that’s correct) also shared his thoughts on the Knicks' future, or at least the future of a player linked to the organization in the recent past: Joe Ingles on Donovan Mitchell.

Ingles, who is currently with the Orlando Magic after signing a one-year deal last July, did a radio interview on KZS Sports Zone and he said “Mitchell will play for New York one day, whether that’s sooner or later.”

Of course, that’s the click-grabber and the headline used by most. Ingles said that he thinks Mitchell will play for New York eventually, adding “This is like non-bias, no outside info,” but rather his honest opinion on a friend and a player he shared the court with while both played for the Jazz.

“I think it would be great for New York, and I think it would be great for him,” Ingles said. “Whether or not that actually happens we’ll wait and see.”

Ingles and Mitchell were members of the Utah Jazz from 2017 through 2022, so it’s fair to assume Ingles might know at least something about his former teammate if only because of the time they spent together.

That said, Ingles’ prediction is the same as the one anyone can come up with by just looking at Mitchell’s page on Wikipedia: Elmsford, New York native? AAU games played for NYC-based squads? His father works for the New York Mets!?

This kid Mitchell must have New York Knicks blood running through his circulatory system!!!

So there’s that, and here we are with the Knicks (2-3) sitting below .500 to start the year and facing the Milwaukee Bucks tonight, on the road, to kick their In-Season Tournament participation off. Yikes.

What do you think about the pro comments above? Any preferred target? Optimal strategy? Banking Chuck? Trusting Ingles? Believing PP? Let everybody know below!